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Robert Woodward AM, 1923 - 2010
When Robert Woodward's El Alamein Memorial Fountain won the competition to commemorate the AIF in North Africa, it gave him the freedom to create glorious fountains in Australia and overseas.
His success was no accident but the culmination of two years working with Finnish architects Alvar Aalto and Viljo Rewell, five years studying for an architecture degree and 14 years of manual training.
One of three children, he grew up in Wentworthville. His classes at Sydney Technical High School directed pupils towards manual arts teaching and were augmented by lessons in art at East Sydney Technical College and metallurgy at Ultimo Technical College.
World War II intervened. Waiting to join his older brother in the RAAF, Woodward was conscripted into the infantry. His mother had other ideas and approached the chief armourer at Victoria Barracks with copies of his work.
The young man was accepted as an armourer and continued his training in fitting and turning, engineering and woodwork. After the war, Woodward fulfilled his dream of studying architecture, graduating with honours from the University of Sydney as part of the veteran intake.
He represented Australia in hurdling at the then Empire Games in New Zealand in 1950.
With customary humility, Woodward argued he was accepted into the studio of innovative Finnish architect Alvar Aalto only because manpower was short after the war but the superior portfolio of work he brought to Europe was the more likely reason.
The magical year Woodward spent working with Aalto influenced his work, especially his belief that projects should be site-specific and embrace freedom of design.
Back in Australia Woodward fell in love with Margaret Bray and enjoyed many happy hours sailing and skiing with her.
From the mid-1960s, he worked from home designing and constructing fountains - living, cellular and flexible - with assistance from the entire family.
His four favourite fountains were El Alamein, Darling Harbour water feature, NSW Parliament House fountain and his Expo 70 structure in Osaka, Japan.
Robert Woodward is survived by his wife Margaret, his children, Jane, Andrew and David, grandchildren Rob and Jo and siblings Jack and Jeanne (Amery).
originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald 16 March 2010
Member of the Order of Australia (AM), 26 January 1987
El Alamein Memorial Fountain Kings Cross, Sydney 1959
St Paul's Church Wentworthville, Sydney 1964
Alcoa Forecourt Fountain San Francisco 1967
Archibald 1933 Memorial Fountain, Restoration Hyde Park, Sydney 1968
Bank of California Fountain Portland, Oregon 1969
Geyser Room Restaurant, New Zealand Pavilion, Expo 70 Osaka 1970
Tupperware Forecourt Fountain Orlando, Florida 1970
Chifley Square Fountain Sydney 1971
Grace Memorial Fountain, Roselands Campsie, Sydney 1972
Berger Foundation Fountain Minneapolis 1975
Wall of Water, Sydney Square Town Hall, Sydney 1976
Blue Wave Ceramic Sculpture, Bondi Junction Plaza Sydney 1977
Mini El Alamein Fountain, Perak Turf Club Ipoh, Malaysia 1978
Canberra Times Fountain Canberra 1979
Forecourt Cascades, High Court of Australia Canberra 1980
Five Islands Fountain donated by the Illawarra Mercury Wollongong 1981
G.J. Coles Fountain, Parliament Gardens Melbourne 1981
Lane Cove Plaza Proposal Lane Cove, Sydney 1981
Mount Street Doughnuts North Sydney 1982
New South Wales Parliament House Courtyard Fountain Sydney 1983
Lyric Theatre Fountain, Queensland Performing Arts Centre Brisbane 1984
Palmerston City Square Fountain Darwin 1985
Pacific Bell Forecourt Fountain San Ramon, California 1988
Australian Parliament House Forecourt Canberra 1988
Darling Harbour Water Feature outside Convention Centre Sydney 1988
Modular Spiral Stair, precast Bankstown
Design to alleviate flooding at Lennox Bridge in Parramatta
Waterscapes: Planning, Building and Designing with Water
Editors: Herbert Dreiseitl, Dieter Grau, Karl H.C. Ludwig
ISBN-10: 3764364106 ISBN-13: 978-3764364106
Birkhäuser Basel, April 1, 2001
Robert Woodward: Water in landscape - 12
Town hall square, Hattersheim - 14
Water features in an hotel foyer near Neuchâtel - 20
Watercourse at Herne-Sodingen Academy - 22
The new town square in Gummersbach - 28
The new centre in Kogarah near Sydney - 34
Open space for a residential development in Ittigen, Berne - 36
The 1992 AILA National Awards in Landscape Architecture Civic Design, Project Award: Robert Woodward, Water feature at Darling Harbour
Royal Australian Institute of Architects Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design Merit Award for Civic Design Darling Harbour Water Feature
Commendation in Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings Fountain at the Lyric Theatre
being uploaded: three articles from Landscape Australia
The New South Wales Parliament House Fountain (Landscape Australia 2 / 1993)
Bob Woodward, fountain sculptor (Landscape Australia 3/ 1979)
Robert Woodward, Profile 1979
Robert Woodward, Australian fountain designer (Landscape Australia 3/ 1982)
National Library of Australia interview
"Robert Woodward in profile", indesign, vol. 27, November 2006, pp. 126–131
Moar Gardening, series 2, episode 5 "Water & Earth", 7 April 2005, The Lifestyle Channel
Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia edited by Ann Stephen, Philip Goad and Andrew McNamara, Powerhouse Museum, ISBN 978-0-522-85551-7
"The Best in the World" The Weekend Australian Financial Review, September 3-4, 2005, p. 31
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